GRITSCH, Conradus (not after 1409-before 20 October 1475). Quadragesimale. [Ulm]: Johann Zainer, 20 October 75.
Royal 2o (393 x 274 mm). Collation: [110 2-38; 4-710 812 9-1010 118 1210 13-148; 15-1610 178 1810 198 206(4+1); 21-2210 23-268.10; 27-2910] blank, a/2r alphabetical subject index; text, chronological table, 29/8r index of saints, blank). 269 leaves (of 271, without the blanks). 50 lines and headline (sermon numbers); double column. Type: 1:116bG. Woodcut two-sided border on first text page of a flowering leafy vine with a man in a cap (BMC 6b); 10-line woodcut knotwork and interlace initials from two sets (BMC 3a and 3b), 3-line woodcut initials in tables (BMC 1a). Printed paragraph marks. Capital strokes and highlighting of paragraph marks in red. (F. rehinged, a few small wormholes in last 4 quires,torn along gutter, light dampstain to sheet 1/4.7, faint dampstaining to upper margins slightly affecting text, somewhat darker in quires 14-17, occasional small splashes of rubricator's ink.)
Binding: contemporary alum-tawed pigskin over wooden boards, simply decorated with intersecting fillets forming a central saltire panel, two chased brass fore-edge catchplates and one clasp (lacking second clasp), evidence of 10 brass center- and cornerpiece bosses (all lacking), early manuscript lettering on upper cover, later morocco gilt lettering-piece on spine, quire liners in last quire from a 15th-century German vernacular manuscript on vellum, single index tab from a manuscript with large textura script on vellum (joints cracked, lower cover wormed).
Provenance: Ranshofen, Augustinian Canons: 18th-century inscription on first page (monasterij Ranshouen) -- T. D. Barlow, of Trinity College, Cambridge: 1903 inscription on front pastedown -- Niels Hansen Christensen: sale, Sotheby's New York, 16 November 1976, lot 84 (to Lathrop Harper).
Second edition of this collection of 50 Lenten sermons attributed in the printed editions to Johann Grütsch, an Augustinian canon and law professor at Basel. In fact, as shown by A. Murith in 1940, the true author was Grütsch's brother Conrad, a Franciscan who served various churches in Switzerland (cf. Verfasserlexikon2, III:291-94). The 50 sermons, intended as a handbook for preachers, are enlivened by numerous exempla from the Bible and the Church Fathers as well as from secular medieval and classical sources. This may account for the collection's popularity: 25 incunable editions are recorded.
Johann Zainer, first printer at Ulm and the brother of Augsburg's prototypographer, printed his first book in 1473. Within three years Zainer was obliged by financial difficulties to sell off his fine stock of woodcut ornaments, comprising initial capitals and 6 different borders. These were widely dispersed, reappearing in imprints from Strassburg, Mainz and Heidelberg. Following a two-year hiatus in 1485-87, Zainer resumed printing in 1487 with different material; he was forced by his debts to leave Ulm in 1493, but returned in 1496, and his name continued to appear in editions up to 1527.
H 8063*; BMC II, 524 (IC.9145); BSB-Ink. G-391; GW 11539; Harvard/Walsh 887; Goff G-490.